Beliefnet News

c. 2011 Religion News Service

WASHINGTON (RNS) The Rev. Patrick Conroy was sworn in Wednesday (May 25) as House chaplain, making him the first Jesuit to hold the position, and the first candidate forced to navigate around the Catholic Church’s abuse scandal.

“It’s clear this loyal servant of the faithful is uniquely suited to serve as chaplain of the people’s House,” Speaker John Boehner said, noting that the chaplain “is the anchor of the House.”

“Leader Pelosi and I have gotten a chance to know Father Pat, and we’re honored that he has accepted our invitation to serve as chaplain,” Boehner said.

“We are blessed to have his guidance and his wisdom as we discharge our duties and fulfill our obligations to current and future generations of Americans.”

Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi had raised questions about Conroy, 60, after learning that the Oregon Province of the Society of Jesus agreed to a $166.1 million bankruptcy settlement involving more than 500 active claims of sexual or physical abuse.

After requesting and receiving additional information, Pelosi later gave Conroy her full support. Though the dust-up was brief, Conroy referred to it as a “firestorm” that exposed the extent to which the cases remain connected to the modern church.

Conroy now becomes the 60th House chaplain and succeeds the Rev. Daniel Coughlin, who retired last month after 11 years in the position. Until his appointment, Conroy taught at Jesuit High School in Beaverton, Ore.

(Charles Pope writes for The Oregonian in Portland, Ore.)

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